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Art Of Noise The Seduction of Claude Debussy (1999)

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Review “The Seduction of Claude Debussy” is not just a remarkable musical triumph, it is doubly so given how easily the whole thing could have collapsed under the weight of its considerable hubris.

The Art of Noise are not exactly bashful, and here they are even less so than usual as they attempt what amounts to an electronica Debussy cover album. On top of it all, John Hurt provides highly stylized narration interspersed in the lulls and even sometimes during the most heightened drama of the album, describing Debussy’s life and artistic brilliance, referencing half-known poets and the like. This project could have been totally dire in less capable hands, but fortunately AON knows what they’re doing.

The source of strength of this release is that it is an album, not a collection of weak Debussy remixes. No techno-ridden piano-and-string loops here. Instead we have luscious piano cascades and classical guitar and mighty string crescendos flowing beautifully over ambience, dub beats and jackhammer drillnbass alike. After all, it wouldn’t be enough for Art of Noise to put new beats to old music.

After declaring at the end of “Il Pleure” that Debussy “was the revolutionary that set 20th century music on its way,” they could do nothing less than give us a full and rich sampling of the entire palette of 20th century music, from jazz to bubblegum pop to dub and drum and bass to hip hop. Anything less would be an insult their chosen subject and hero. For the most part, they succeed, although I personally found the rapper Rakim’s surprising arrival in the middle of Track 6 to be a little jarring.

Most importantly, though, is that “Seduction” doesn’t just work as an artistic concept, it works as music. It is a beautiful composition, with rich arrangements and terrific mixing, and covering an impressive degree of ground, never growing repetitive, always original and filled with aggressive experimentation and originality. I can’t imagine whether Debussy himself would have liked or hated it, but what is probably certain is that he would not have been bored by it.

Review First, let me state that this album is, in my ever-so-humble opinion, the best album of 1999, and ranks in my Top 10 albums of the 1990s.
I was aware of the Art Of Noise for some time, but never actually listened to one of their recordings until this one. It blends their rhythmic synth-beats with the classical undertones of composer Claude Debussy.

Never before has an album been so melodic, so wonderful, so complete. The songs flow from one into the next, sounding similar, but never the same. The continuity of Debussy’s compositions is readily evident, yet the Art Of Noise has not held-back showcasing their own talents. The sound of the album is exquisite. Actor John Hurt narrates throughout (odd, I know, but it works), and the voices of the female singers used are near-perfect. Music and voice blend together wonderfully.

Only one song, “Metaforce”, jarred me at first, for its style is markedly different from the rest of the CD. But even that track eventually sounds as though it fits in, a weird sort of way. It simply adds to the diverse, yet cohesive tone of the CD.

It is important that this work be listened to as a ‘complete album’. It is not of the typical ‘pop/single market’ today, where one can skip to any track they choose. Do that, and this album will lose much of its beauty.

“The Seduction of Claude Debussy” is, quite simply, a complete, modern masterpiece. You will not find another one like it.

Review The Art Of Noise reaches into the mind of classical composer Claude Debussy and extracts their vision of what most listeners will find to be an eccentric blending of innovative sound.

This long awaited release has expanded the traditional ambient sound of The Art Of Noise by introducing a diverse range of musical styles and textures. Unique blends of opera, jazz, hard rock, opera and even rap, make this extraordinary recording a must for the distinguished ambient listener. Unlike many ambient artists, the Art Of Noise offers the listener true melodic substance and does not leave you feeling like you have just subjected yourself to an hours worth of experimental digital sound effects.

For those who are expecting a ‘new age remix’ of Debussy’s classical style, you will find only vague musical similarities. The recording is more an experimental visitation of creative expression with odd and very inappropriate biographical undertones. The entire project has scattered tidbits of narrated ‘facts’ that are sometimes surreal and innovative, but more often annoying and repetitious.

The use of narration is interesting, but leaves you feeling as though you are being read to from a music history book. Fortunately, these segments are short and non-obtrusive and lead up to a layered blend of beautiful ethereal passages of mystical sound.

This particular recording is not for everyone, but for those of us who are musically connected with the spirituality of ambient sound, this recording will bring you on an amazing journey.

May 26, 2013 Posted by | Art Of Noise The Seduction of Claude Debussy | | Leave a comment